Manchester City and Spain midfielder Rodri was unlucky not to pick up the Ballon d’Or last year in the eyes of many, having been instrumental in an historic Premier League and Champions League double. However his first introduction to English football was something of a humbling.
Rodri joined City from Atletico Madrid on a €70m deal, and was thrown into action away against West Ham.
“My first game in the Premier League was against West Ham, and [Michail] Antonio, probably the strongest player in the league, hit me on the nose with his forearm. It was unintentional, he was just shielding the ball, and I thought I might have broken it. The referee came and said to me: ‘Welcome to the Premier League’,” he told DAZN, as carried by Cadena Cope.
The referee you might ask? None other than retired Premier League icon Mike Dean. It was the Hammers that ended up on the end of the humbling though, succumbing to a 5-0 defeat.
Mike Dean’s jumper has won Christmas pic.twitter.com/34ISuXV7UB
— Sam Turton 😼 (@TurtonSam) December 23, 2023
Rodri has certainly become physically stronger, but despite his size is remarkably mobile still. Always a special talent on the ball, and more so with Pep Guardiola, Rodri highlighted the fact that his year under Diego Simeone improved him in a number of aspects. For many the successor to Sergio Busquets, Rodri is set to lead Spain into the Euros in Germany next summer.